Wednesday 30 August 2023

World Championships are underway

I met up with fellow Brits, Angie Thompson and Bob Penny off their flight at the arrivals hall after a great deep sleep on Saturday night. After a leisurely drive down from Brisbane Airport on Sunday morning we dumped our luggage at the accommodation as we couldn’t check in until 2pm and then headed off to the Broadbeach Bowls Club to get our bearings.

One of the greens at Broadbeach Bowls Club

Sunday was spent relaxing and checking in our apartments and meeting old and new friends. It was great to be back after 5 years.

ITO Meeting 
Day -1 on Monday and all the ITOs met at Broadbeach for our meeting and introduction. We were welcomed by World Bowls President Daryl Clout and CEO Neil Dalrymple before our detailed introduction from CTO, John Roberts and TD, Mark Cowan. It was an opportunity for us to run through the finer details for the event and to ask any questions on the Conditions of Play.

Time for a quick bite of lunch before getting changed into our new uniforms and returning back to Broadbeach. At this event we are trialling the use of Laser measures for the first time. They are not in general use yet and so it was an opportunity for us all to run through their operation form those that are proficient with them. There were other discussions around equipment as there always is at these World gatherings. It was then all on the bus to Helensvale Bowls Club for the Opening Ceremony

A bit of practice with the laser measures

As I said in my previous post, there are 44 countries represented and it was great to see all the players and officials together and mingling in one venue. There was a great atmosphere. After the formalities of the ceremony we were treated to drinks and canapes in the excellent club.

Not quite enough food for us growing chaps so a few of us headed into town when we got back to Broadbeach for a meal and a good old catchup.

44 Nations at the Opening Ceremony

Day 1 and here we go. I am based at Helensvale as Deputy CTO for the duration and with the first session of games starting at 8:30 we had to leave our accommodation as the sun was rising at 6:15am. Thankfully everyone made it to the bus on time and after dropping the team at Musgrave Hill we arrived at Helensvale and got into full organisation mode.

First jobs – check the umpires kits. Ideally, we would have done this a couple days before and unfortunately there were some items missing but most ITOs had bought some of their own equipment. Next, on to checking the rinks and in particular the 25 metre side markers. It is common in Australia for the minimum length jack to be 21 metres with a 23 metre side marker so we had to check they were amended. Then on to timing the greens. This is something we do every morning to record the pace of the green and announce that at the start of play. It involves 2 ITOs timing the delivery of a bowl to a distance of 27 metres. Taking the average of 3 timings gives us the pace and they worked out to be 14 and 15 seconds for Green 1 and 3 respectively.

The new canopy at Helensvale Bowls Club

Helensvale has 3 greens, the centre one is now a synthetic surface with an impressive canopy and clubhouse extension being built. It is a huge investment. Green 1 is nearest the road and green 3 is on a higher level and surround by seating. Both superb greens as you would expect. From previous photos I have posted, some have commented on how brown the rinks are and indeed they do look a bit like chipboard and are really solid. These are tiff dwarf grass which lays dormant this time of year so don’t need much cutting. They go a little greener in the summer months but are still rock hard. Also many have commented on the many lines on the greens. Because the grass doesn’t get cut very often they can mark the centre lines with chalk and they last for around 3-4 weeks. It’s a quick and simple way of ensuring mat and jack are centred and certainly speeds up the games. There are no such things as 2 metre sticks here, they just think that is hilarious, and to be quite honest when you see all the 2 metre positions marked, I can understand why.

Duties for an ITO include, umpires x 2 per green, markers for singles, rovers which are like spare umpires for the 2 greens and timekeepers should there be any slow play challenges. As the schedules are so busy for the first few days of sectional play we are working with just 2 umpires and the markers as we do not have enough ITOs to cover everything. I covered an umpire duty in the first session followed by a marking duty and then again umpiring in the last session.

At each venue each day, 3 rounds of the first 3 disciplines of Women’s Singles, Mens Pairs and Womens Fours are being played. We also have the Para athletes competing alongside these disciplines. Each session starts with an announcement to commence trial ends 15 minutes before the game start time. After completing the trial ends the players wait for the timekeeper to sound the airhorn for the start of the session – you know its coming but it still makes you jump!

All sessions in the sectional play are 2 hours and 15 minute in duration. One of the duties of the umpire is to record the number of ends played at the half way time. If some are lagging behind the expected number of ends we have a quiet word to chivvy them along a bit. The majority of games so far have been completed on time.

Each ITO is undergoing a working assessment whilst officiating. 3 x Marker and 3 x Umpire duties are assessment by myself and the other DCTOs and CTO. It gives us a good indication of their performance and is used to develop them and guide us on future selection for final stages of competition and other World events.

End of day one came along and with sore feet and some burnt noses we staggered back to the coach to take us back to Broadbeach. The 4 DCTOs from each venue then met for a short debrief with the CTO and TD – we seem to have more acronyms than AC12 in Line of Duty!! There were no issues at Helensvale, a quiet word with a team manager about the number of coaches at the end of the rink and also a spot of rink possession and that was about it. There were a couple of issues a one venue that were handled very well by the DCTO. They also had a flooded green at one point as the heavens opened but it was all drained withing 20 minutes and play resumed. The great thing about sub-tropical rains showers is they rarely last long and you are all dried out within the hour.

Bed at 9:30 shattered. Up at 5:30 again for day 2

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes insights. If you get the chance to take a look at some of the live streaming, follow the Bowls Australia Facebook page, link below – the only official link so don’t fall foul of the many scammers out there.

Meanwhile enjoy some of the photos from the first few days whilst I go and have a cup of tea and a TimTam.

Our amazing ITOs from India, Shubhra and Jitenda

Rita Shek from Hong Kong attentively Marking

Helensvale Bowls Club looking amazing on Day 1

Broadbeach Bowls Club

Some practice at Broadbeach

Trialing Laser measures


Friday 25 August 2023

World Championships 2023 - Some Facts & Figures

The journey to the 2023 World Championships begins. 

A civilised lunchtime departure time from London Heathrow sees me on a Cathay Pacific flight to Brisbane via Hong Kong. I will arrive around midnight Aussie time on the 26th August and stay over at an airport hotel before making my way down to the beautiful Gold Coast and our accommodation in Broadbeach.

So whilst, I am soaring at 30,000 feet enjoying a glass of Vino or two, I thought I would give you a little insight into the facts and figures of what are going to be the largest World Bowls Championships ever staged.

I am honoured to be one of four Deputy Chief Technical Officials (DCTOs) working alongside Bob Carlson and Sue Hogg from Australia and Michael Johnson from New Zealand.

Our Chief Technical Official (CTO) is John Roberts and the Technical Delegate (TD), Mark Cowan, both from Australia.

There are a total of 50 International Technical Officials (ITOs) from 7 nations appointed to the Championships.

5 superb Gold Coast venues will be in use; Broadbeach Bowling Club, Club Musgrave Hill, Club Helensvale, Mudgeeraba Bowls Club and Paradise Point Bowls Club. Together they will provide 13 championship greens.

There will be 3 sessions of play per day each of 2 hours and 15 minutes duration. 

Medals will be awarded for 11 disciplines including para-disciplines.

Week One runs from Tuesday 29th August through Sunday 3rd September. Semi-finals and Finals will be held on the 2nd and 3rd September at Club Helensvale. The disciplines for the first week will be Womens Singles and Fours, Mens Pairs and Triples, Para Mens and Womens Pairs and Visually Impaired Mixed Pairs.

We have a day off on Monday 4th September - woohoo! time to explore the Hinterland.

Week Two runs from Tuesday 5th September through Sunday 10th September. Semi-finals and Finals will be held on 9th and 10th September at Broadbeach Bowls Club. The disciplines for the second week will be Womens Triples and Pairs and the Mens Fours and Singles.

44 countries and over 550 players, managers and coaches will be represented at the Championships making it one of the largest ever entries.

Live streaming will be available on Bowls Australia's Facebook page

I will try and post updates and experiences along the way so stay tuned. If you have any questions please pop them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Wish us luck, its going to be a busy ride!!